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Russian Warns Georgia Against Ship Seizures
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 3 Sep.'09 / 19:29

  • The sides are expected to address the issue at a routine security talks on September 8.

Further seizure of cargo ships en-route to Abkhazia by Georgian coast guard may cause “serious armed incidents,” Andrei Nesterenko, a spokesman of the Russian Foreign Ministry said on September 3.
 
“Besides the fact that such actions of the Georgian leadership violate international maritime navigation rules and is an attempt to impose sea blockade on Abkhazian coast, they are fraught with aggravating the military-political situation in the region and may lead to serious armed incidents,” Nesterenko said in remarks posted on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website.

“Full responsibility for possible unpredictable consequences completely lies on the Georgian side,” he said and added that Georgia had not yet given up plans for “forceful resolution of the territorial issues.”

Four cargo ships en-route to, or from Abkhazia were seized this year by the Georgian coast guard on the grounds of violating of Georgia’s law on occupied territories, which bans economic activities in breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia without Georgia’s consent.

Abkhaz leader, Sergey Bagapsh, said on September 2, that he had ordered the Abkhaz navy “to destroy” the Georgian coast guard vessels, which would violate Abkhazia’s “territorial waters.”

Deputy head of Russian Federal Security Service border guard department, Yevgeny Inchin, said on August 28 that a unit of the Russian border guards in Abkhazia also includes coast guard boats, “which will solve these issues, meaning providing security for [ships]” bound to Abkhazia.

The Georgian authorities said Russia was behind the Abkhaz side’s threat.

After the Russian senior border guard official’s statement, the Georgian Foreign Ministry said on September 1 that Russian possible moves in so called Abkhaz territorial waters, which internationally is recognized as part of Georgia, would be a violation of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Citing the convention, the Georgian Foreign Ministry said Tbilisi was authorized to exercise its rights in contiguous zone “to prevent and punish infringement by Russia of its customs, fiscal, immigration or sanitary laws and regulations within its territorial sea.”

“The Georgian side will use all legal and political levers at its disposal in order to ensure the protection of its sovereign rights and prevention of Russia's arbitrary actions,” it added.

EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia (EUMM) said on September 2 that it was concerned about the statements of the Georgian, Abkhaz and Russian sides on the matter.

It also said that the issue was included in the agenda of upcoming meeting in frames of Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) between the sides planned for September 8 in Gali.

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